Fashion ‘Fatigue’ (Or is it Simply a Case of Deep Pockets?)

Thom Browne

This Bud’s for you! And no, I’m not referring to a big cold beer (which I’m sure you are craving now that New York Fashion Week has finally come to an end). I’m talking about all the flowers, floral prints and patterns, which have been spotted on runways all around town. There’s enough variety within that genre to suit just about anybody (even those who don’t necessarily like florals), and just when you thought there couldn’t be another way to do them, enter Thom Browne! (In the meantime, don’t be surprised if you see someone wearing a head to toe TB creation, plus the eccentric Stephen Jones hat, at the next FLO Awards luncheon in Central Park this coming May). But of course, they are hardly the only story that came out of the week, and as it turns out, there was nary a flower on the runways of the three big designers (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs), who showed on Thursday, the last day of MBFW. Come to think of it, there was not one print either.

Somewhere in between “dressed- to-the-nines-fancy-shmancy”, and “I don’t care” downright sloppy, there’s a whole category of dressing that is based on sportswear. With the glorification and inundation of comfortable athletic footwear (particularly the elevation of the sneaker), and the ubiquitous obsession with jeans, (and denim in general), I think we can safely say good old American sportswear is here to stay, and it’s having its moment right now.

Marc Jacobs

So, it makes perfect sense that it was also the star of New York Fashion Week, which ended on Thursday evening with Marc Jacobs, who is apparently suffering battle ‘fatigue’ (or was thinking everyone else would be at this point), from the look of his military inspired collection which was centered on the idea of uniform dressing played out in army fatigue green, khaki, cadet blue, and black. Almost everything, for day and evening, featured oversized, pronounced, utilitarian pockets (they could easily obliterate the need to carry a purse). Gone were the optimistic, sweet, pastel clouds which hovered over the runway last season, and while he switched his venue, (he had traditionally shown at the Armory on Lexington Avenue and 26th street), last night, he showed at the Park Avenue Armory at 66th street, (a place that was still perfectly suited to his theme).

Calvin Klein

Francisco Costa, who presented his sleek, pared down collection for Calvin Klein in the early afternoon, did a complete about face from last season, which was highly textural, tactile, touchy feely. The body was not hidden in thick cozy coats, but rather, quite on view in thin, sometimes transparent pieces that were spare and elongated, sometimes juxtaposed against fitted jackets or streamlined coats in gleaming leather. It was all about the tank top, luxuriously fabricated of course. Predominant tones were dark blues, black, shades of ivory, and welcome hits of red.

Joseph Altuzarra

Other highlights of the week: Alexander Wang’s sneaker inspired athletic collection; Joseph Altuzarra’s  sexy, tailored, dressed up vision; Michael Kors’s play on iconic sportswear pieces, quirky offhanded mixes, and his tomboyish ode to the sweet 50’s , down to the ballet length full tulle skirts (just in time for FIT’s “Dance & Fashion” exhibition, September 13, 2014 – January 3, 2015; Tommy Hilfiger’s rock and roll homage; and Proenza Schouler’s creative, gutsy and graphic approach to athletic wear (I loved that show: “P.S. I love you!”).

Ralph Lauren poppy gazaar safari jacket nude tulle
beaded top ghurka stretch suede pant

And on Thursday morning, just days after his Polo Ralph Lauren techno tour de force in Central Park, Ralph Lauren, a designer whose name is synonymous with American sportswear, took us on a dressed up, sleek, sexy safari, for collection, which was shown at 560 Washington Street. Think Bob Lee’s Hunting World (remember that wonderful shop on east 53rd street?) meets Ghurka (not just the iconic bag but its color). Hence, the focus on safari shirts, safari shirtdresses, and safari coats; cargo pants; jodhpurs; bomber jackets; jumpsuits; tailored pant and skirt suits; cashmere and metallic sweaters. And of course, there was the requisite group of floor length, voluminous tulle, beaded, and gazaar dresses, or long skirts, shown with beaded sweaters (there was also a group of tulle beaded tops that obliterated the need to wear any other jewelry).

Ghurka tulle beaded evening dress gold washed
vachetta giant hobo

Then of course, there were the great bags (messengers, clutches, drawstrings, ranging in size from tiny to enormous), and shoes, all of which were made of the most luxurious skins. Speaking of which, the only time you saw a flat shoe or sneaker on this runway, is when Ralph took his bow in his chic trainers, at the show’s finale. The diminutive designer likes his gals TALL, and all the models wore very high heeled pumps and platform sandals (which added an additional inch), made of antique gold nappa, gold calf, python, alligator.

Sage green silk taffeta shirt dress

As always, it’s all about the way things are put together and the unexpected mixes (day and evening, masculine and feminine, fluid and structured, rich and humble). In terms of fabrication, there was a lot of cotton, cotton drill, and cotton canvas (most often they appeared in a neutral shade of green and were mixed with silk, satin, charmeuse, cashmere, organza, and tulle). Hits of strong color came by way of poppy, bright yellow, orchid, orchid, fuchsia, lime. Needless to say, these were safari clothes for a fantasy safari (my good friend just came back from a safari that Travel & Leisure billed as the most luxurious in the world, and from what I can gather, nothing in her suitcase resembled an olive metallic organza safari jacket, tulle beaded sweater, or high heeled antique gold metallic platform sandal. While Ralph did not walk on water (nor did his models), as they (sort of) did on Monday evening, it was signature Ralph all the way: glamorous, luxurious, classy, and ultra-feminine.

– Marilyn Kirschner

J. Mendel Gets An “A” in Architecture

J. Mendel Skyscraper shadow fox mounted degrade jacket,
Skyscraper printed cotton poplin dress with contrast slashed-seam
patchwork skirt

Two creative imaginations are not always better than one unless they can mesh their opinions, work well together and inspire each other. In the case of artist Enoc Perez and designer Gilles Mendel, it’s a perfect match. Gilles Mendel, CEO and designer of his father Jacques eponymous J. Mendel, a luxury boutique of fur, couture and ready-to-wear on Madison Avenue showed his Spring/Summer 2015 collection at Lincoln Center yesterday. There were many society “ladies who lunch” in the Theater as well as Harper’s Bazaar’s Glenda Bailey and Bergdorf’s Linda Fargo, a store which carries the J. Mendel line.

Enoc Perez painting

Once again, he is collaborating with Mr. Perez who he met at a DIA Foundation benefit last year.  They produced a book of collages inspired from the artist’s architectural and nude forms as well as the designer’s workroom.  The book is entitled “Gilles Mendel by Enoc Perez” and you can read about it here: This time Mr. Mendel’s collection took on Mr. Perez’s “arresting prints of giant multi-windowed buildings” which he “worked and reworked throughout the collection.” Beyond mere representation, the designer strove to capture the “layered application of paint and metallic leaf” in the artists work.

Rouge leather angle-front collarless jacket, rouge
Skyscraper orgnaza jacquet

And succeed he did. Between the luxe fabrics of silk chiffon, textured cotton, crepe de chine, cotton poplin, organza jacquard, leather and, of course, fur along with the beautiful and vibrant color palette of lime yellow, bright red, silver, teal and fuchsia the collection is a dazzler. There is a feeling of deconstruction and collage as solids and prints are dissected into strips, “then jaggedly reassembled into abbreviated dresses and miniskirts that read as sharp and sophisticated.” Flashes of silver are exposed at the seams and as a foil lining on a metallic tweed cutaway jacket over a black and white dress.

For evening, architectural columns emphasize the silhouette while keeping with the theme of jacquard strips against the color, print and translucency.  Even with the furs nothing looks heavy or overdone. Accessories are also kept light with discreet, structural handbags featuring a pop of color for day; silver mirror evening clutches catch the light without distracting from the overall look. The mirror/ivoire double strap stilettos did seem challenging to walk in as several models looked as if they were having difficulty walking. One or two of the models managed to just catch themselves before they hit the deck and became “fashion roadkill” as referenced in the episode of “Sex and the City” in which SJP walks in a fashion show and takes an embarrassing spill.

Yellow shadow fox knitted gilet, shifted-grid beaded v-neck mini dress

As far as the standout looks of the collection, I would naturally gravitate to the colorful pieced fox coats in the turquoise as I love brightly colored fur and actually own a similar Peter Som jacket. As the red, black, and white fur walked the runway, I was thinking how this jacket would be impervious to any attacks of animal blood from PETA as its basically already spotted with the red color to begin with. (Not sure that that’s a selling point! HA). If you prefer solid bright color fur there is a lime broadtail mounted cape as well as a turquoise diagonal let out mink coat, both of which are equally showstopping. I also loved the leather pieces including the red leather skirt suit and an Ivoire leather angle-front coat which was worn over an ivoire matte crepe and leather mini dress. Truth be told I would be thrilled to wear just about anything in the collection though if my lifestyle and wallet warranted it which alas, they don’t.

It will be interesting to see if there are any more collaborations between the Puerto Rican born New York artist and the Paris born New York designer. Mr. Perez admits that he feels quite comfortable with the French. “I could relate to him because my wife is French, and she is a big fan of his work” Perez told the New York Times. Now the question is, do they trade paintings for furs?

– Laurel Marcus

The Daily Bet by Rhonda Erb

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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